Tiger Woods seemingly had it all. The most celebrated golf career in history with 14 Major Championships and 16 World Golf Championships, and the most highly endorsed sportsman in the world. He was married to the gorgeous Elin Nordegren, a former Swedish model who gave birth to their two children. Loaded with endorsements and nursing an over 10-year relationship with Nike, Woods was in the public spotlight for all the right reasons.
Until many wrong reasons came out into that light.
In November of 2009, The National Enquirer printed a story that claimed Woods had engaged in an affair with NYC night club manager Rachel Uchitel. Though she denied it, the story opened up a Pandora’s box of Woods’ relations with women who were not his wife. A San Diego cocktail waitress provided voice and text messages proving an over 2-year affair, and Hollywood madam Michelle Braun stated that Woods had paid a total of $60,000 to his escort service over the course of two years. And she had 1099s and IRS records to prove it.
In public statements made at a press conference and on his website, Woods admitted to his wrong-doings, fessing up to having paid escorts on both sides of the Atlantic for several years. He took an indefinite leave from golf while he escaped to Sweden with his family to plan their next move.
Many people, in fact, had to plan their next move in regards to clarifying their past and current relationships with the fallen star.
Gilette, Accenture, Golf Digest and AT&T indefinitely dropped him as a client. TAG Heuer briefly ended using Woods in their advertising campaigns, only to later state that “Tag Heuer stands with Tiger Woods”. Nike chose not to suspend the intimate relationship. But overall, a team at the University of California at Davis estimated that Woods’ scandal cost shareholders of these companies up to 12 million dollars.
Personally, the dozen or so women that had been behind closed doors with Woods also had some explaining to do. Several were paid escorts of Braun’s and other madams. One, Jamie Jungers, claims that money was never exchanged and that her affair with Woods was as emotional as it was physical. She told Meredith Vieira of The Today Show, “I got nothing from this relationship—except a broken heart.” She wanted the rumors to be cleared: she wasn’t a paid escort or a prostitute, just a woman who made a poor choice to have a relationship with a married man. A celebrity in a profession that, in fact, Junger wasn’t even particularly interested in.
Rachel Uchitel, the New York City nightclub manager that lit the initial fire of the scandal, similarly sought clarification, and hired well-publicized lawyer Gloria Alred to defend her being called a “hooker” by Joy Behar of the popular daytime show The View (the host did indeed apologize). And while the National Enquirer did have photos of Uchitel entering Woods’ hotel room in Australia, she denied ever having an affair with him.
So with women swirling around him and millions of dollars flying in the public wind, how did the affairs affect Woods personally?
After a 20-week hiatus Woods returned to the golf course, but it seems his game was forever changed. In 2011 he opened his season at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in southern California and landed a tie for 44th place—the worst season opener in his career history. He went on to make similar mistakes throughout the season, often claiming leg injuries as a cause, and his world ranking eventually dropped to #15 on June 7th—the lowest place of his career since 1997. Thus, the scandals around Woods achieved their goal: the unbeatable golfer was crushed and the element of gamble was restored.
Many athletes and celebrities have been caught in extramarital affairs. Many of those affairs were with prostitutes or escorts whose professional relationship quickly got personal. Very little has been brought to light as to why Woods sought sex outside of his marriage. Or why he paid for sex and had extended affairs with escorts or started some with women of unrelated careers. But with a marriage that ended in divorce in August of 2010 and a rough patch of missed putts and dropped endorsements, one might wonder what was missing in Woods’ life, when it appeared he really did have it all.